Commuter warns of danger to children’s lives at Audley End after removal of safety staff

PUBLISHED: 08:26 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 07 March 2019

School children over the yellow safety line at Audley End Station as the morning train approaches

School children over the yellow safety line at Audley End Station as the morning train approaches


Children are in danger at Audley End Railway Station, according to a commuter who has taken video footage of school pupils crowding over the yellow line as the trains come in.

Matthew Edwards, who catches the 7.37am train to Cambridge, says Greater Anglia is risking children’s lives since removing platform safety staff, the land sheriffs, in January – and the rail regulator has turned a blind eye.

Greater Anglia claims it warned Cambridge schools of the change – but the Stephen Perse Foundation, St Mary’s and Dame Bradbury’s, say no one from the railway company contacted them – and there are other Cambridge schools and sixth-form colleges that Greater Anglia does not even claim to have told.

Mr Edwards has raised the issue with the Office for Rail and Roads (ORR) which he says has not checked the Greater Anglia claims or seen a risk assessment. He questions whether one was carried out.

He points out the lack of newspaper ads before the sheriffs’ removal, signs at the station, tweets or Facebook posts.

He said: “None of the (safety) measures Greater Anglia claims are used in practice.

“No announcements come over the Tannoy when the train is coming into the station.

“No station staff are on the platform to judge the risk to students as the train pulls in. They just leave the kids alone on the platform and hope that no one gets hurt.”

In a series of e-mail ecxhanges, he challenges the ORR: “It is the high volume of students at that time at that one hot spot. Is it going to take some small child to be pulled under a train for you to take note of this danger?”

Mr Edwards points out (as did the Reporter when the cuts were made) that just weeks earlier, in November, Greater Anglia championed the use of land sheriffs on its website saying they “patrol at Audley End to keep the large numbers of schoolchildren who use the station safe”.

Yet two months later it was decided the land sheriffs were not needed at Audley End.

Mr Edwards’ own children, a toddler and a five-year-old, are not involved.

But he says: “I don’t want to be the only damned adult on the platform when a child goes under a train. It won’t be the person pushing who gets hurt, it will be someone lighter who gets swept along.”

A spokesman for Great Anglia said the land sheriffs had been moved to Bishop’s Stortford.

“Audley End is a perfectly safe station. All stations are safe if they are used properly. We have a booklet on rail safety and parents are welcome to come on to the platform (without a ticket) and see their children on to the train.”

An ORR spokesman said: “We are in ongoing discussions with Greater Anglia about how it is reviewing its platform risk assessment in light of the removal of the land sheriffs to ensure the safety of all passengers.”

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